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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 5th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

Does the RNC have reason to boycott CNN, NBC?

Do Republicans have legitimate reason to be upset about NBC and CNN's planned Hillary Clinton programming?

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that the RNC would not partner with the networks for primary debates in the 2016 presidential election if the recently announced NBC miniseries and CNN documentary about Clinton are released as planned.

"If [NBC and CNN] have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor," said Priebus in a statement. The RNC also started a petition on it's website against the forthcoming Clinton programming.

According to CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, the GOP may be afraid that any programming could help Clinton, who is considered a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, with voters.

"I think there is concern by Republicans that the media will be as enamored with Hillary Clinton as they were with President Obama when he was then a candidate, and that there will be 'puff pieces' about Hillary in order to help her," said Navarro.

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said that Republicans are ignoring the bad press that Clinton has received in the spotlight over the years.

"If you ask anybody who works for Hillary Clinton whether or not the liberal media has gone easy on her over the last 20 years, I think the argument from their side would be no," said Simmons.

The ultimatum may also be part of a larger strategy to influence the primary debating format to help candidates, according to Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and editorial director of the National Journal.

"After the 2012 election, there was a sense among some Republican activists that the party was hurt not only by too many debates, but too many debates with moderators they deemed as unfriendly," said Brownstein. "This reflects a desire to not only reduce the number of debates but get more of a hold on them."

Many of the 20 Republican primary debates held before the 2012 election were "cringe-inducing" according to Navarro, and may have ultimately hurt the GOP.

"Republicans have every right to work the refs," said Simmons. "Democrats do it when our primaries get started, but, in fairness, let's wait and see what the product is."

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